My Son Is Gay...
The author and her son

And I couldn’t be happier!

I used to work 45+ hours a week. At the time, I had four kids aged 18-13. My boss, a prominent pediatrician, decided one summer to go on an uber-long vacation, one month to Fiji.  It was during this time that I finally decided to put my children first.

 I worked so often that I had begun to feel I was neglecting them. They needed me emotionally.  They required me not to be tired after work and listen to them, or so I perceived.

 So that hot summer in July, I also vacated work and vowed to spend quality time with my kids and sleep in as much as possible. During my time off, I cleaned my house so that it would make my neurotic and organized grandmother proud. I cooked meals that didn’t require being removed from a cardboard box, and I started doing things with my children. I was prepared to spend my cherished week being the best mom I could be.

 Not that working 45+ hours a week to put food on the table and keeping a roof over their heads didn’t make me a good mom; I wanted to provide emotional and physical support. They were in their teenage years.  Which, as many know, is always the pits.

 My two girls were the easiest to spend time with.  The younger one, sweet, pretty and intelligent, enjoyed baking cookies, watching scary movies, and gathering her adolescent friends to the house to discuss essential things in their lives. Things like which boys in their school were cute, who was a slut, and what teacher made them want to vomit.  Despite their constant chit-chatting and nail-scratching chalkboard shrieks and giggles, I found my time with her comforting and familiar.

 The beautiful, intellectual, and militant eldest daughter was more sinister and dark.  Her young mind was still wounded by the perils of high school and was now being tormented by the media’s display of government inactivity amongst its people.  Hunger, poverty, and political corruption had to be stopped.  I cringed as she mercilessly showed me terrorist acts on the internet and the media’s propaganda to ruin the minds of our youth.  She was a rebel with many causes.  After talking with her, I wondered if the helicopter in the sky from a nearby naval base was following me to the local grocery store.

 My youngest son, the handsome, cunning jock, didn’t require much of my company. He just wanted someone to play Black Ops and Zombie Apocalypse with and to lend an ear about how great of a football player he was.  He also taught me about football.  Thanks to his patience and tenacity, I understand why football players wear such tight pants, which I may add is a beautiful thing and what a punt is.

 But my oldest son, the wise artist, needed me more than I thought. He was 16 at the time and stood about 5’9.  He was not much into sports but had a muscular build, intellect, and a very handsome face. He was a thinker. I knew my time with him would require much talking and deep, inspiring thoughts.  Oddly, he approached me for conversation.

That day was no different than any other day. It was a bright Tuesday morning. I had awakened early and decided to watch some quality TV. The kids were still asleep. I fixed some coffee, eased into the couch, and flipped the television to Jerry Springer.

My oldest son came upstairs and sat beside me. He never spoke to me until a half hour into the show when some poor woman got dragged across the stage by her sister for sleeping with her husband.

 “Mom?” he said, laying his head on my shoulder.

“Yes, son”, I replied.

“No matter what we did or said, you would still love us.  Right?’’.

“Of course, I would”, I said uneasily as my mind began to race and immediately worry.

 “Would you love me even if you didn’t like what I said or did?” he asked, looking up earnestly at me.

 As a parent, you keep your composure.  Your emotions are on a plane, fretting about which one will jump out the hatch first.  Dealing with teenagers, usually Fear, Anger, and Sadness, is one of the first to leap.  Happy and Joy are in the back of the plane, drinking lattes in a robe and watching a 24-hour Sex and the City marathon. I honestly did not know which one of the three would dive. Trying to control my heightened sense of paranoia, I replied, “Yes, son”.

Removing his head from my shoulder, he began to sob.

 “Dear God, what’s wrong?” I asked while rubbing his back.

 “Mom…..I’m gay”, he said in between sobs.

 Rendered speechless, my mind began to fire in a thousand different directions.  Is he joking? He can’t be joking; he’s crying. Is he serious? He has to be serious; he’s crying.  In a broken voice, I ask, “Are you sure?”.

It may not have been an excellent question then, but I knew that kids his age like to experiment.  Hell, I did.

“Yeah, mom.  I’m sure”, he said while still sobbing.

“Since when?” I used to think that was a choice.

 “Since I was little.  I always liked boys”, he said, wiping the tears from his eyes.

 “How can that be?” I thought.  Ignoring my child’s presence, I stared off into space, consumed by emotions and thoughts.  My heart pounded with angst, sadness, and immediate guilt.

 “Wouldn’t I have seen the red flags?” My impression back then of someone being gay was Rupaul or Liberace. Not a boy with many male friends who occasionally played pranks on each other or kicked a ball outside from time to time.  Or maybe I saw them and ignored them.  A mother’s love for her child can be deceivably blinding at times.  Sceptical of my sudden quietness, he placed his hand on mine.

 “Mom, do you still love me?” he asked with reddened eyes and furrowed brows.

 “More than life itself “, I started to cry.  “Is it my fault?” I asked.  Maybe I should have pushed for your father to be in your life more.  He had never done anything for the children since they were born. Maybe, I should have encouraged you to take up sports in school. Perhaps I should have been stricter with you.  Maybe I should have acquired more male role models in my life, like my brothers or my father. Perhaps I should have taken him to church more often. The guilt and helplessness I felt seemed overpowering.

 “No, mom.  It’s nothing you did.  You taught me to be strong and follow my heart.  You did a good job raising us. It’s just me.  It’s who I am”, he said firmly.

 Relieved and confused, I hugged him tightly.  We held each other that morning for what seemed like hours.  It was at that moment that I realised maybe I needed him more than I thought he needed me.

 There are many things in life that we hope and wish our children to be.  At some point, as a parent, you have to realise that they have their hopes and dreams.  And why should I fix something that is not broken? He is strong, healthy, and intelligent.  Whether he was gay or not, I would still worry about him and his choices.

 One of the perks of being a parent is the lifetime of worry nobody tells you about.  If you ask my honest opinion, it saddens me to know sometimes that my beautiful boy will never have a wife.  It saddens me that I will never meet the girl of his or MY dreams and orchestrate a $60,000 wedding. The funny thing about being a mother is that your children’s happiness always comes before yours, even if you disagree about what makes them happy.

If you ask him today, he is proud of who he is.  He is strong, wise, and happy. And the fear that I dreaded for my son has faded.  But he’s who he is, and I love him.  And now that brave 16-year-old boy is a 20-year-old man attending college.  How could I not love him, he’s my boy, and that giant pill that I had to swallow 4 years ago goes down a bit easier as the years go by.  I accept him for who he is.

That summer in July, my children taught me many things on that brief vacation.  I learned that secrets and occasionally scary movies were best when surrounded by good friends you love and trust.  I learned that the world is not perfect and if you don’t like it, then do something about it.  I knew that football is entertaining and shooting zombies with an AK can be stress relieving.  I also learned that love is love regardless of a person’s gender, race, or religion, and there is nothing wrong with that.

But most importantly, I learned that worrying never helped anybody. And whereas I doubted my ability to do right by my children, I was doing it right the whole time. And even though, when it comes to my eldest son, his decision is still an adjustment for me.

Sometimes, I wish he didn’t dish so much about his current love interest. Every time we talk, I am bombarded about a young man he has met that has him smitten.  I listen and do not judge.  I have also managed to coax Happy and Joy to take a leap out the door of the plane sometimes as we converse.

  I also realized it is during those shared moments with my son that I am grateful that he is confident and sure of himself and that the vodka I bought is waiting for me cold in the fridge. No more surprises. I want to be prepared the next time I hear, “No matter what we did or said, you would still love us, right?” I would then get up, pour myself a quick shot of Ciroc, sit back down, take a deep breath, look whomever straight in the eyes and say, “Always.”